Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

all shook up

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jan 17, 2007

The (London) Times's Ruth Gledhill quotes a rant from the Episcopal Bishop of Bethlehem Paul Marshall protesting -- from the left side of the narthex -- the Archbishop of Canterbury's limp lambethiosity. The non-Anglican interloper may feel somewhat guilty in reading Marshall's tantrum: it's like leaning out of a tenement window to watch the LaMottas' marital spat in the street below. Bishop Marshall -- like the 1950s sitcom shrew who starts off giving her husband the frigid treatment and ends up throwing the tuna casserole at his head -- begins each sentence coolly but finishes by chucking at Williams any metaphor in reach. Try parsing this 94-word beauty:

All of this said, it seems necessary to report my perception that the nadir in Rowan's overall relationship to the US, Canada and perhaps South Africa has been the appointment of a virtual lynch mob to draft the Covenant that will by all reports attempt turn a fellowship into a curial bureaucracy in which the worst elements of the great and oppressive Colonizer and of the Resentful Colonized will as meet as a scissors to the denigration of significant number of God's people who were almost equal in Christ for one brief shining moment.

Note to Paul: don't try to be arch when you're angry.

How are the Church of England's struggles pertinent to Catholics? First, the doctrinal antagonisms at work in Anglicanism are matched point by point by divisions in the Catholic Church. Second, both orthodox and progressive Catholics will recognize more spiritual kinship with certain Anglicans than with many of those self-identified as their co-religionists. Third, the conflict in Episcopalia is a trial of some of the best polemical weaponry available to both sides, and to that extent it's like the Reagan Pentagon's watching the Iran-Iraq War, in which the MiG-21 fighter was matched against the F-14 and the T-62 tank against the M-60 Patton. They're not our armies, but they use a lot of our equipment, and it's interesting to see how well it works in combat (hint: if I were the Bishop of Bethlehem, I'd retire the word "denigration" from my anti-Nigerian arsenal).

A final observation prompted by Marshall's letter. Whenever a liberal is driven to quote the Bible the way the orthodox do -- i.e., as a reliable communication of God's will that must direct our conduct, as opposed to an impressionistic portrait of ancient Palestine's experience of the experience of the experience of God -- you know he's got his back to the wall.

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